12 July 2008


Edale from Hollins Cross.
There is a secret green dale in the heart of the Pennines, nestled between the Kinder Plateau and Hope Valley. It is called Edale. Around three hundred people live there. In medieval times it was a royal cattle ranch where cows grew fat on its rich pastures. Nowadays it is popular with walkers, day trippers and mountain bikers.

There is a hostel in Edale called Champion House. I first went there twenty years ago with a school party. I returned on Wednesday with thirty six fourteen year olds and spent another three days indulging in "outdoor education".

Last night I was dog tired when I went to my little room at half past one in the morning, leaving the four other teachers to continue rabbiting whilst quaffing Sauvignon Blanc. I was the leader of the expedition so I was a bit peeved to discover that at three in the morning these selfsame "colleagues" had taken it into their heads to prowl round the perimeter of the hostel with a sweeping brush, giggling while they scraped it against the dorm windows and made ghostly noises in order to spook our young charges.

How embarraassing when Adrian - who is the local vicar and warden of Champion House told me that his sleep in the neighbouring vicarage had been disturbed by late night shenanigans. I couldn't bring myself to tell him that it wasn't the kids - it was the bloody staff! One of these late night rural revellers added to the original stupidity by putting frozen sausages in some of the kids' bags. When the "joke" was discovered, a gang of the fourteen year old victims grabbed their tormentor and covered his hair with shampoo. This chap is our wonderful and innovative new Head of Humanities - after a mere three years of teaching! Sorry to say it but he proved to me that he is little more than a kid himself. I am no sergeant major or killjoy. I wanted our urban youngsters to have a lovely time at the end of a long school year but disturbing them in the middle of the night and playing stupid practical jokes on them whilst inebriated was never meant to be part of it all.

I walked along with this young guy on Thursday asking numerous questions about his university days in Durham and his travelling experiences. In return, I got not one single question - even though my educational achievements happen to have been far greater than his and my travelling experiences have been far more numerous and more widespread than his. He just didn't want to know. I have met lots of people like that where I do all the running and the giving and they give nothing back. It'slike a game of table tennis in which the ball only bounces on one side of the net.

Most of the kids we took to Edale were really nice. They got on well together and showed some manners to the staff. When cleaning up the hostel ready for departure, they all muscled in. I had lots of laughs and it was great to be away from my workplace - the Monty Python Academy for young ladies and gentlemen where we are currently "decanting" ready to move into the new school. In other words, filling boxes and chucking out stuff we don't need. Pure chaos.
Entrance to Peak Cavern (The Devil's Arse), Castleton.


  1. Great story YP. I can relate to it well. especially the bit about the young teacher. It's the lack of correct spelling, punctuation, grammar and imagination I notice in them too. I relieve in their classes... Enough to make your hair curl, some of it! Perhaps it's just New Zealand.

  2. Elder Daughter took me there a few years ago, YP. Very interesting. I can't believe that these teachers had the time or the energy to do what they did. I can assure you it would never happen on a Primary school residential - you're lucky if you get a couple of hours sleep, never mind getting up to all that!

  3. I went to peak district cave once with a large high and dripping chimney like feature disappearing up to the surface. 'This is called the eiffel tower' said the guide. we all looked up. 'because if you look up you get an eyeful' he said. we all know people like your colleague YP. In my case I have never been anywhere interesting or acheived anything noteworthy so I am happy to listen to other's stories

  4. Teenagers behaving like teenagers, fair enough - - but teachers, oh how very tedious. What a hilarious practical joke. Not. When I used to be involved in running school trips we used to devote all our energies to settling them down to sleep at night - - and teachers who don't do that are just storing up trouble for themselves the next day.

  5. That's made me feel quite nostalgic. I used to work at a school that ran a trip to Edale every year. Good times.

    We used to have fun with the kids, but we never kept them awake at night! (It was their job to prevent us from getting any sleep.)

    Good luck with your move, doesn't sound like much fun to me.

  6. In rereading some of Edward Eager's books, I came across a passage that resonated with me as an adult as much as it did when I was a child, albeit from a different perspective. It described the three kinds of adults: those who refused to remember what it was like to be children, those who tried to act like children in order to relate to children, and those who understood that grownups were grownups, kids were kids, and there was no reason why the two sets couldn't get along.

    I've always been a fan of the third set. (Perhaps that is why I refuse to use "friend" as a verb.)

  7. KATHERINE - You "relieve" in their classes? You mean you relieve yourself?
    JENNYTA - If I was on a primary residential I would get the little buggers to sleep for you. Just threatening them with bodily harm usually works I find.
    ARTHUR - Never been anywhere interesting? Okay - what about Darlington then? Never achieved anything noteworthy? Well waht about those great pictures on your blog then? Yaaaah! Mock humility methinks.
    DAPHNE - You're right. The next day some girls cornered this young guy and smeared his hair with shampoo. Needless to say, I didn't even try to come to his aid.
    THREE LEDDED CAT - Welcome to the weird but wonderful world of the battered Yorkshire Pudding...
    ALKELDA - "those who understood that grownups were grownups, kids were kids" Yeah! Most of the time. But as Dylan sang "May you stay forever young!"

  8. I know what you mean about the give and take in conversation ... similar thing happened with our most recent recruit in the office (lasted three months). After a morning of intermittently asking polite questions and trying to sound interested in her gym and commuting routine I felt like saying - "Well enough about you let's talk about me .."!


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